Marxist Theory Featured

This article by Alan Woods was originally written in 1989 to commemorate 200 years of the Great French Revolution, with a new introduction by the author. Alan Woods explains the internal dynamics of the revolution and above all the role played by the masses.

In this in depth article Alan Woods looks at the specific historical role of Napoleon Bonaparte. He looks into the characteristics of this man that fitted the needs of the reactionary bourgeoisie as it attempted to consolidate its grip on French society and sweep to one side the most revolutionary elements who had played a key role in guaranteeing the victory of the revolution.

This article by Alan Woods looks at how the French Revolution affected British poets. It struck Britain like a thunderbolt affecting all layers of society and this was reflected in its artists and writers.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many as the greatest musician of all time. He was revolutionary in more senses than one. One of his main achievements was in the field of opera. Before Mozart, opera was seen as an art form exclusively for the upper classes. This was true not only of those who went to see it, but also of its dramatis personae - the characters who were shown on the stage, and especially the protagonists. With The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro in its original Italian title), all this changes. This is the story of a servant who stands up to his boss and outwits his master.

Despite his confused politics, Lenin had a great respect for the Russian anarchist Kropotkin, particularly as the author of the book about the Great French Revolution. He pointed out that Kropotkin had been the first to look at the French Revolution through the eyes of a researcher, to focus the attention on the plebeian masses, and to continually underline the role and meaning of the craftsmen, the workers and other representatives of the working people during the French Revolution.

Felix Morrow's book, written in the white heat of the struggle, remains a Marxist classic on the Spanish Civil war. It is one of the clearest account produced of the movement of the Spanish masses, describing the events in Catalonia and the role of all those involved. This book provides an excellent companion to Ted Grant's 1973 article and the writings of Leon Trotsky on this question and deserves to be studied by all class-conscious activists.

The shock result of the Irish general elections, which put Sinn Féin on top in terms of votes, has sent the Irish ruling class into a panic. No matter what road they take, the next period will be one of great political turbulence.

"If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going". Up until recently, this was the slogan many pilots and passengers had adopted when flying or boarding an aircraft. It was a nod of respect for the Seattle aircraft manufacturer that brought America into the jet age with airliners like the 707, the three-engine 727 that followed, and the “Queen of the Skies” – the 747. How times have changed!

Antonio Gramsci died in 1937, after spending nearly ten years in prison under Mussolini’s fascist regime. All these years later, his ideas and legacy are still being debated and reinterpreted. Who was Gramsci? All manner of weird and wonderful answers have been given to this question, with plenty of distortions, if not outright historical falsifications, from petit-bourgeois academics and intellectuals, to revisionists in the labour movement.

We spoke with Leonid Shaidurov: a 17-year-old activist who has played a leading role in the School Strikes for Climate movement in Russia. He has helped organise students in schools and is a member of both the coordination council for Fridays for Future internationally and the organisational committee in Russia. He agreed to be interviewed in order to give advice to school students hoping to build on the movement around climate change.

At the time of writing these lines, the outcome of the struggle that began on 5 December is still uncertain. The government has made clear that it will not back down on the key elements of its “reform” (a counter-reform, in reality). Faced with this, the striking workers have demonstrated exemplary courage and militancy.

The IMT has spent the past year commemorating the March 1919 centennial of the Third (Communist) International's founding. In particular, we celebrate the extraordinary promise and lessons of its first four congresses. But just a few years after it entered the scene of history, the Comintern suffered a sudden, dramatic, and irreversible decline. What happened? How was all that potential squandered and turned into its opposite?

All the reactionaries are crowing. Donald Trump expressed particular delight at the result. “Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his great WIN!” the US President wrote on Twitter. “Johnson secures crushing UK election victory,” exuded the Financial Times, as the pound rose on foreign exchange markets.

Today is the day. British workers and youth have one last opportunity to mobilise for a Labour win. The Tories are in a panic. The wind is in our sails. We have every chance of success. Let's get out there and fight! All out for a Corbyn victory!

The 5 December strike mobilised a number of demonstrators not seen in France since the struggles of autumn 2010 (against the Sarkozy government’s pension reform). While we do not know the exact number of striking workers, it is likely that no interprofessional strike has had such a big impact on France’s economy since December 1995.

This article was first published in German by the comrades of Der Funke, the IMT in Austria. Here we provide an English translation on this important question of Queer Theory. Is it compatible with Marxism? Can there be such a thing as “Queer Marxism”? Yola Kipcak in Vienna replies in the negative, and explains why.

Suddenly, and without any warning, a rap song appeared on social media, produced by three young men – who were unheard of up to that moment – and racked up millions of views in record time. The track was entitled "Long Live the People", based on the slogan of the revolutionary youth (especially notable in the 20F’s manifestations) directed against the monarchist slogan: “long live the king”. The track topped the list of most-watched Moroccan videos on YouTube. This is unprecedented for an agitational song, as the top spot has typically been occupied by pop trifles.

In this talk from the recent Revolution Festival, hosted by Socialist Appeal in Britain, Marie Frederiksen – editor of the Danish Marxist paper 'Revolution' – discusses the impact of the Berlin Wall, which was broken apart 30 years ago today, on 9 November 1989. This marked the beginning of the end for the Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Capital emerged on the stage of history “dripping blood from every pore” – to use Marx’s famous words. Josh Holroyd describes the violent and tumultuous birth of capitalism out of the embers of feudal society.

Opportunism and sectarianism are two sides of the same coin. Both must be combated if the program of revolutionary Marxism is to become a mass force by connecting with the aspirations and movement of the working class, as Socialist Revolution (the IMT in the USA) explains.

Today there is a general strike planned in Catalonia and a massive mobilisation, with five columns marching throughout Catalonia to converge in Barcelona. This day of action is organised under slogans rejecting the judgement of "Procés", and calling for the freedom of the Catalan political prisoners and the right to self-determination. The International Marxist Tendency in the Spanish State, Lucha de Clases, unconditionally supports this day of struggle.

Nine Catalan political prisoners, who have been held in remand for almost two years, have been given lengthy jail sentences of between 9 and 13 years by the Spanish Supreme Court for sedition and misuse of public funds. And what was their “crime?” The organisation of the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October 2017. This is a scandalous, undemocratic ruling that reveals the rottenness of the Spanish 1978 regime. The International Marxist Tendency rejects these outrageous sentences and calls on the labour, socialist and democratic forces of the world to mobilise against them with all their might.

For Marxists, the Chinese Revolution was the second greatest event in human history, second only to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Millions of human beings, who had hitherto been the beasts of burden of imperialism, threw off the humiliating yoke of imperialism and capitalism, and entered the stage of world history.

MMT has created a buzz on the left recently, with its supporters citing it as an answer to all our economic woes. Instead of trendy new ideas, however, we need the clear, scientific analysis of capitalism that Marxism provides – Adam Booth writes.

Liberal Professor Mr. Tugan-Baranovsky is on the warpath against socialism. This time he has approached the question, not from the political and economic angle, but from that of an abstract discussion on equality (perhaps the professor thought such an abstract discussion more suitable for the religious and philosophical gatherings, which he has addressed?).

The international climate strike movement has created waves across the world. Over the past year, during the course of several global days of action, millions of young people from over 100 countries have walked out of school in order to join the ‘Fridays for Future’ protests, demanding immediate action against the climate crisis.

The fires in the Amazon and central-west regions of Brazil were felt in São Paulo. The sky darkened at 3pm and many people did not understand why. Then the news came, explaining that, besides the cold front, this was caused by the ground-clearing fires used in “slash-and-burn” agriculture. And then, a general commotion was stirred up on social media, in the newspapers, and across the international media. The environmental problem, which did not seem to be a major focus of public indignation, become a new point of expression for widespread dissatisfaction and government crisis. This issue fed the anger and resentment against the Bolsonaro government, which responded with nothing but

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The recent convulsive faction fight and split in the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), driven by Peter Taaffe, the General Secretary of SPEW, the Socialist Party of England and Wales, is now plastered all over social media for the world to see. Despite the stream of allegations coming from the Taaffe faction, and the rebuttals from the other side, the dispute in reality centres around prestige politics, a highly pernicious tendency that is invariably fatal in a revolutionary organisation.

The following statement by comrade John McInally is a personal account of the nature and reasons for the degeneration of the Socialist Party (SP) and Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). John was a member of the SP (and before that Militant) for more than 40 years, before he came into conflict with the leadership and was deemed to have "placed himself outside" of the organisation.

I did not believe that it was possible for the low esteem in which I hold modern academics in general, and bourgeois historians in particular, to sink any lower than it already was. But that belief was misplaced. I have just had the misfortune to watch a three-part series put out by BBC Channel Four with the title: ‘Charles I, Downfall of a King’. I now hold the intellectual qualities of our modern historians at a slightly lower level than those of Mr Bean. At least Mr Bean can be mildly amusing at times, but our self-appointed intellectuals lack even that redeeming virtue.

The pharmaceutical industry is a very profitable business, particularly if you lack a moral compass. Jazz Pharmaceuticals 15-folded its value in seven years on the back of one drug, for which it charged through the roof.

The 12 July celebrations, 'The Twelfth', are the height of the marching season in Ireland. It's a day for Protestants and Unionists in Ireland to celebrate the defeat of the Jacobite forces by the Williamites in 1690. The parade was used politically by the Orange Order and reactionary loyalist forces to show their dominance in the North, especially in Belfast, often invoking sectarian riots and violence, which plague the Twelfth. In 1913, James Connolly, Irish revolutionary, explained his thoughts on this day, its real historical basis, and what it means to the people of Ireland.

As the capitalist system lurches from one crisis to the next, old contradictions are re-emerging. Instability, polarisation and huge political shifts are taking place all over the world. As part of this process, unsolved national questions are erupting once more with renewed force around the globe - from Catalonia to Kurdistan to Ireland.

And it is not just on the national question that these giant shifts are taking place. The emergence of new political movements and formations, from Sanders to Corbyn to Podemos, reflect the impasse of the system and the fact that the masses - deprived of a party with a clear, revolutionary programme - are searching for a way out.

Today is 50 years since the Stonewall riots of 28 June 1969, which marked the beginning of the modern LGBT rights movement. Following other revolutionary events of the 1960s, the riots – described as the “hairpin drop heard ‘round the world” by the New York Mattachine newsletter – marked a shift amongst LGBT people away from individualised, small-scale activism and towards mass protest and demonstrations.

On 28 June 1969, a riot just outside the Stonewall Inn bar, located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York City, marked a turning point in the fight for the emancipation of LGBTQ people. That night, the bar was raided by the police, which was all too common at the time with gay bars. But this time, gay people didn’t let the police walk over them. They stood up to the NYPD in an unprecedented weekend of rioting. This courageous act transformed the movement and led to thousands of LGBTQ people coming “out of the closet, into the streets!” It is important to revisit these events and draw the main lessons for today.

The crisis unfolding within the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) is reaching a critical phase, and a deep split is now imminent. The Spanish group of the CWI, Izquierda Revolucionaria, which only joined the CWI in 2017, has already split away and what remains of the Mexican and Venezuelan groups have followed suit. The Portuguese group has also left. To help readers understand what is happening, we take this opportunity to publish two opposition documents from 1991 and 1992, when a heated dispute took place within the Militant Tendency

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Thirty years ago, the world’s largest-ever student movement was brought to a violent close by the so-called People’s Liberation Army. For about six weeks, hundreds of thousands, and at one point over a million, students, workers, Communist Party members and Beijing residents had flooded into and occupied Tiananmen Square, the same place from which forty years earlier Mao had proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

On 28 June 1914, two pistol shots shattered the peace of a sunny afternoon in Sarajevo. Those shots reverberated around Europe and shattered the peace of the whole world. This was the beginning of the Great Slaughter. Could it have been avoided? Alan Woods uses the method of Marxism to answer this question. He explains that, actually, whilst individuals play an important role in history, to explain events such as wars, one must look at deeper causes.

From May to August of 1934, Minneapolis was rocked by a strike that would forever change the course of U.S. labour history. This was the strike of Teamsters Local 574, a union led by Trotskyists. Many of the best techniques used by organised labour today find their origins in the Minneapolis Strike, in particular the flying picket. However, the strike's greatest conquest was in laying the foundations for industrial unionism in North America, leading to the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the following years. Above all, the Minneapolis Strike demonstrated the role played by the young forces of American Trotskyism in obtaining gains for workers.